Thu | Sep 28, 2023

Confident Jamaica square off against Estonia

Davis Cup Group II clash begins today at Eric Bell Tennis Centre

Published:Saturday | February 4, 2023 | 1:28 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
John Chin in action.
John Chin in action.
Team captains Ekke Tiideman (left) of Estonia and Jamaica’s Mel Spence at their Davis Cup press conference at AC Marriott hotel yesterday.
Team captains Ekke Tiideman (left) of Estonia and Jamaica’s Mel Spence at their Davis Cup press conference at AC Marriott hotel yesterday.

Rowland ‘Randy’ Phillips will open Jamaica’s Davis Cup tie against Estonia’s Kristjan Tamm today at the Eric Bell Tennis Centre starting at 3 p.m. and the 29-year-old is looking to set the tone for the rest of the weekend with a win.

Phillips, the most experienced player in the Jamaica squad, is excited to be playing a Davis Cup tie at home for the first time in more than over 15 years and he is ready for the contest.

“ I am excited. I am looking to put on a great show. All the guys feel the same way. We are ready to play for our friends and family, as it is really a dream come true and we are going out there to play to win,” he said.

“Setting the tone for the weekend will be very important. If I can get the win in that first match, it would really get us off to a great start.

“But any Davis Cup Group II tie is going to be a battle. We will not go there thinking it is an easy win. We are going there to compete hard and try to win and we are ready to go.”

He added that his experience playing at the Group II level will serve him well.

“The experience will help. We will handle the pressure because we have played several matches under pressure.

“It is our third time in Group II. So it is not new. We just have to manage our emotions and focus on the tennis. Feed off the crowd, yes, but stay disciplined and tough, and that will make the difference.”

Jamaica’s number one Blaise Bicknell, who was due to fly in late last night, will be in top shape to face Jergen Zopp in the evening’s second game, assured team captain Mel Spence.

“My dad used to have a phrase when he ran track called ‘fresh foot’ . He would say, you get off the plane and do whatever sport you do incredibly well, so I am looking for some fresh foot (performance),” he commented.

“The guys are in fantastic shape. We are confident in everything they have done leading up to this.

“I have watched these guys (Estonia) and it is going to be a fantastic matchup,” he said.

Estonia’s number one Tamm said the home crowd will give the hosts a big boost but he hopes their five years’ experience playing at the Group II level will help them through the tie.

“It is exciting playing Jamaica in Jamaica. We know the crowd will be loud against us but we will try our best.

“We have played a few times away and we have been successful and we have lost, so it is not easy to play away. But we believe in ourselves and we have to give 110 per cent to succeed,” he said.

Zopp, who takes on Bicknell in the second match of the tie, expects a difficult afternoon.

“I am not a professional athlete any more and I came to help the team as much as I can. The match will be tough. I don’t want to predict anything. We will go for a win but we will take it a match at a time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tennis Jamaica president John Azar said they are not taking their opponents for granted and expects a thrilling battle.

“At this level there are no easy teams. We know the competition is tough but I am confident the guys will perform at the highest level because we are not here to come second,” he stated.

Jamaica’s Davis Cup squad: Blaise Bicknell, Randy Phillips, John Chin, Daniel Azar and Jacob Bicknell.